Toxic Freedom

by bhakta Eric Johanson

Superstorm Sandy

“But everyone wants sunshine. Why in one place denied, and one place there is sunshine? You are not free. Even though you want sunshine, there is no sunshine. So how you feel free? You bring sunshine. But that is not happening. There is superior arrangement. So to accept that superior arrangement, that is real business, not to declare freedom falsely. That is not possible. If I say: ‘I am free from the law-abiding process, law given by government. I am free from the law of the government,’ that is not possible. If you become outlaw, then you will be arrested and put into jail. So what is the use of declaring that, ‘I am free from the government laws’? There is no freedom. Whatever little freedom is given to us, if you utilize it properly, that is very nice. If we unnecessarily declare that, ‘I am free from any obligation,’ that is madman’s proposal. That is the mistake of the modern man, that especially in the Western countries, unnecessarily they are declaring freedom in so many ways.
Unnecessarily. He is not free, but he is declaring. That is described in Caitanya-caritāmṛta, I think, or in some other. No? Prema-vivarta. Yes, there is a book, Prema-vivarta: piśācī paile yena mati-cchanna haya/māyā-grasta jīvera se daśā upajāya. The freedom is declared by persons who are completely under the clutches of māyā. He declares freedom. And he is so much haunted by the ghost māyā that he thinks his bondage as freedom. Just like a drug-addicted person or drunkard. He is thinking, ‘I am free.’ He lies down on the street sometimes in madness: ‘Who can forbid me?’ You have seen madmen lying on the street. I have seen it, all traffic stopped. So this kind of freedom has no meaning. It is involving oneself with the strict laws of māyā. There is no freedom. And just like a child, if he becomes free from the parents, it is not good; it is dangerous. His life is at risk. If a child without the help of the parents go on the street, is . . . that freedom is nice? That kind of freedom. Therefore Kṛṣṇa says that ‘Whatever little freedom you have got, just surrender that freedom to Me.’ Sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ (BG 18.66).” Room Conversation, July 26, 1975, Laguna Beach, emphasis added

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This entry was posted on March 13, 2022. 1 Comment

Atmospheric Warming and U.S. Strategic Interests in South Asia

by Chand Prasad, Ph.D.

With the exception of the polar regions, the frozen Hindu Kush and Himalayan ranges contain more ice than anywhere else on Earth. The glaciers feed ten of the world’s most important river systems, including the Ganges, Indus, Yellow, Mekong and Irrawaddy, and directly or indirectly supply billions of people with food, energy, clean air and incomes. The Himalayan glaciers have been losing almost half a meter of ice each year since the start of this century— double the amount of melting that occurred between 1975 and 2000.

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Review of Gold, Guns and God: Volume 2–A Pioneer Community

by Chand Prasad, Ph.D.

Academic scholars will benefit from reading Gold, Guns and God: Volume 2—A Pioneer Community (GGG Vol 2). Prabhupada disciples should be forewarned. GGG Vol 2 presents Prabhupada in an unjustifiably negative light.

Doktorski contributes to the literature with his (a) coverage of Kirtanananda’s heretofore undocumented defection from ISKCON in September 1967 and his subsequent reunion with Prabhupada in July 1968; (b) insights into the inauspicious founding of New Vrindaban; (c) detailed information on the community’s expansion through the purchase of properties in the McCreary Ridge. Doktorski provides a valuable understanding of Kirtanananda’s charisma, his extensive travels outside of West Virginia, and the separation that the New Vrindaban community felt when Kirtanananda was away. I have not found this information elsewhere.

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Review of Gold, Guns, and God: Vol 1–A Crazy Man

by Chand Prasad, Ph.D.

Shrila Prabhupada did not timidly admit that ISKCON is a cult.  He boldly and repeatedly declared it.  How could anyone claim he did not know he joined a cult?  ISKCON likely started as a beneficial cult, then degenerated into a malevolent cult to the detriment of its members, both old and new.

Shrila Prabhupada’s stated objective is to preach the cult of bhakti.  The question that remains is Prabhupada’s role, if any, in imposing the undeniably harmful cult characteristics that are well documented in the literature on ISKCON. The addendum to Volume 1 of Gold, Guns, and God does not give a balanced, even-handed treatment of Prabhupada’s alleged complicity in the creation of a detrimental cult we know ISKCON to be.

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Is Democracy Still Capable of Solving the World’s Problems? (or at least those of the U.S.)

by bhakta Eric Johanson

“Nowadays it is the days of vote. Any rascal, if he gets vote somehow or other, then he acquires the exalted post. That is also written in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, that in the Kali-yuga there will be no consideration who is fit to occupy the exalted post of presidentship or royal throne. Simply somehow or other, by hook and crook, he’ll occupy the seat. Therefore people are suffering. It is not… Nowadays, in democratic days, the government by the people, government for the people. So if the government is by the people, yes, you select your representative. If you are a fool, then you will select another fool. So Bhagavata says, sva-vid-varaha ustra-kharaih samstutah purusah pasuh. Anyone who is not a devotee, Krsna conscious devotee of God, then he may be in a exalted post, but he is praised by some people who are exactly like sva. Sva means dog, and vid-varaha means pigs who eat stool. Sva-vid-varaha. Vid-varaha. And ustra, ustra means camel. And ustra-kharaih. Khara means ass. Sva-vid-varahostra-kharaih. If a person who is not a devotee, he is praised or he is exalted, then the praisers, the persons who is praising him, he must be among these animals: dog, camel, pig and ass. So the whole population is like that, like dog, like camel, like ass and like vid-varaha, pig, the stool-eater, the whole population, at the present moment. So he must elect another big animal who is also in this category. Because he has no knowledge.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.15.37 — Los Angeles, December 15, 1973

Here Srila Prabhupada is describing the fundamental flaw of what is called democracy – people trained only in bodily sense gratification are incapable of electing someone who will see to their material and spiritual well being. This means that the problems facing such a society will rarely be improved. This is now fully on display in what is lauded as the world’s greatest democracy, the United States, in regard to the Coronavirus pandemic. This is not to say that all democracies have failed in regard to this plague, it is just that the factors just described by Srila Prabhupada are now wreaking havoc in the US. The same reasons are also found in the lack of a practical US solution to the climate change crisis.

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This entry was posted on May 23, 2020. 5 Comments

How to Live on a Farm in the 21st Century



Towards the end of the Cow Culture Conference held in Kuala Lumpur on October 7, 2018, during the question-and-answer session, a devotee asked for practical advice on how to adopt a Vedic farm lifestyle. He wanted to know whether there are any model farms around the world that we could follow, and also what he, a city-dweller, could do if he were to live on a farm.

I was very happy he asked this question because it signalled to me that the devotee was keen to live simply according to Dharma, and he wants to know more. That, to me, is the first step in a long but necessary journey back to a Vedic lifestyle based on Varnasrama Dharma, which I believe is the only sustainable lifestyle for humanity.

Srila Prabhupada once said, “Unless in the human society the Varnasrama system is introduced, no scheme or social order, health order or any order, political order, will be successful.” Indeed, Srila Prabhupada stressed the importance of varnasrama dharma as he departed this world more than 40 years ago.[1]

Hence, I believe the question ought to be answered in a comprehensive manner, which speakers often cannot do at conferences due to time limitations. I am writing this article with the hope that the above question will be answered deservingly.

For a start, let me just briefly say that there are several existing Hare Krishna communities around the world that have established “Vedic villages” in their own way. Although we may aspire to live in an ideal Vedic village, I don’t believe there is any one model that can be copied everywhere because the local conditions and culture in each country will present its own set of challenges and will require specific solutions. Continue reading

Climate Change and Agriculture

by Chand Prasad, Ph.D.

Agriculture accounts for close to 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 70 percent of all freshwater use. Agricultural related greenhouse gas emissions stem from the production of crops and animal products, as well as the conversion of forests, savannas, and peatlands to crop and pasture lands. The amount of land used for total agricultural production has grown at a rate of more than 10 million hectares per year since the 1960s. Agriculture employs roughly 2 billion of the planet’s people and uses about one-half of vegetated land i.e., land that is not covered by ice, water, or desert [1]. Pastureland alone occupies 25% of the planet’s land mass, excluding Antarctica [2]. Croplands and pasture lands have expanded at the expense of tropical forests.  The environmental impacts of agriculture will intensify—in the coming decades, billions of people will join the global middle class and adopt meat-centered diets, exacerbating land degradation, water shortages, and adverse effects from climate change [1].

The impacts of global warming are already apparent.  Greenland lost about 2 billion tons of ice in one day (June 13th, 2019).  Ice losses of this magnitude are part of a recent pattern. This extreme melting did not occur prior to the late 1990s.  Since then, however, Greenland experienced a a sequence of large melt seasons—2007, 2010, and 2012—that would have been unprecedented earlier in the record. Barring any offsetting factors, if these periodic extreme melts become a regular occurrence, then this new normal would significantly contribute to rising global sea levels [3].

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Global Warming and Geoengineering

by Chand Prasad, Ph.D.

Global warming poses a number of grave threats to agriculture, including the loss of pollen viability for some crop species at higher temperatures, more extreme unpredictable weather, and coastal flooding [1].  Any serious efforts to address climate change will necessitate the adoption of organic farming and the rejection of commercial agricultural systems that foster and serve the global meat culture.  However, rather than undertaking constructive and fundamental changes aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions, many in the scientific community have counseled an approach known as geoengineering, which is often described as technological interventions in the earth’s climate systems to manipulate our weather and our oceans.  Unfortunately, this depiction of geoengineering is misleading, or at best incomplete.  Although global warming has been utilized as an argument for increased support and funding for environmental modification technologies, geoengineering is rooted to a large extent in its potential for military applications, which include creating weather disturbances that are destructive to enemy combatant nations [2].

The United States and the Soviet Union conducted some of the earliest geo-scale experiments and engineering efforts between 1958 and 1962.  These 2 Cold War combatants were attempting to modify the global environment for military purposes by detonating nuclear bombs in space – the goal of combating global warming played absolutely no role.  The 1958 U.S. Argus project, for instance, involved the use of A-bomb explosions in the Van Allen Belt (magnetic belts protecting the earth from the destructive solar wind’s charged particles) to create an artificial radiation belt, disrupt the near-space environment, and possibly intercept enemy missiles.  Project Argus, and later high altitude nuclear tests by the U.S. and the Soviet Union that followed, culminated in the 1962 Starfish Prime H-bomb space detonations that created an artificial electromagnetic radiation belt that remained for 10 years [2].  Project Starfish had a substantially disruptive impact on the Van Allen belt, altering its shape and intensity for approximately 100 years to come.  Geo-weaponry projects also included the 1962 U.S. military use of electronic beams to ionize and de-ionize areas of the atmosphere to generate artificial lightening, as well as a Canadian project that entailed launching satellites into the earth’s ionosphere to chemically simulate plasma (an example of which is lightening) [3, 20].

In response to the destructive impacts of these activities, the United Nations General Assembly approved the 1976 Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques [4].  However, the United Nations left a debilitating loophole – the Convention did not prohibit peaceful projects (Article III of Convention) such as pure research, solar energy projects, or industrial resource development.  This omission allowed countries to simply re-label or restate the objectives of their geo-warfare projects as, for instance, weather research aimed at increasing food production in the North American plains or in Russia [3]. Continue reading

Better Preaching Ahead

At some point every conditioned soul realizes the futility of material life. However, while there is still hope of sense gratification, most will strive to overcome each and every obstacle to it. This generally continues until just prior to the moment of death. At that point everyone starkly understands their utter defeat – everything they have worked for will be taken away, including their very conception of who they are. It is a rare soul who, understanding this inevitability, anticipates this dilemma and endeavors for that pleasure and realization that transcends the activities of the material body.

tasyaiva hetoh prayateta kovido/ na labhyate yad bhramatam upary adhah/ tal labhyate duhkhavad anyatah sukham/ kalena sarvatra gabhira-ramhasa – Persons who are actually intelligent and philosophically inclined should endeavor only for that purposeful end which is not obtainable even by wandering from the topmost planet down to the lowest planet. As far as happiness derived from sense enjoyment is concerned, it can be obtained automatically in course of time, just as in course of time we obtain miseries even though we do not desire them. Srimad Bhagavatam 1.5.18

That purposeful end is Krishna, or God, consciousness with complete knowledge of one’s constitutional position as sat, cit and ananda, or eternity, knowledge and bliss. There is, however, a very social component to one’s determination to, come hell or high water, continue striving for greater and greater sense pleasure. Virtually everyone takes on the values and goals of those around them, especially role models like parents. If one is raised in a family or society where self-realization is emphasized, such as Vedic culture, there is that much less chance they will devote themselves to bodily pursuits. Even most indigenous cultures stress non-material attainments.

This is not the case in Western society, or those which, in imitation, are shamelessly abandoning more restrained traditional lifestyles. In the West there is an entire sector of the economy, advertising, which strives to generate as much material desire as possible. Although not as crass, Western education is similarly materialistic and manipulating. Students are often browbeaten to accept “science-based” ideology where matter is dogmatically said to be all that exists. And the goal of every “worthwhile” course of study is to develop the career skills one needs to indenture themselves to one corporation or another for forty years. Even many adherents of the prominent Western religion, Christianity, believe that God’s favor is indicated by the level of one’s material success. Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian scholar of the traditionalist Muslim Brotherhood, spent some time in the American Midwest shortly after World War II and later wrote:

“And when humanity closes the windows to faith in religion, faith in art, and faith in spiritual values altogether, there remains no outlet for its energy to be expended except in the realm of applied science and labor, or to be dissipated in sensual pleasure. And this is where America has ended up after four hundred years.” The America I Have Seen, Sayyid Qutb

Over the last hundred years Western culture has become exponentially hedonistic. The pre-60’s America described by Qutb is now ironically considered prudish, repressive and Puritanical. This “modern” period of the West was characterized by the belief that technology and capitalism were going to allow every generation to be more prosperous and carefree than the previous one – “progress.” This conviction empowered most with the hope that anything was possible, and that Western culture was capable of overcoming anything standing in the way of both individual and collective sense pleasure. Many even believe that science will provide the “singularity” that will enable them to avoid death. Why anyone would want to live eternally in Western society is nevertheless puzzling? Continue reading

This entry was posted on September 2, 2017. 7 Comments

Srila Prabhupada’s Comments on Environmental Well-being and The Causes of Climate Change

by bhakta Eric Johanson

Srila Prabhupada’s mission was to make people conscious of Krishna, or God, and to free them from the material conception of living. In the process of coming to the full state of Krishna prema, or pure transcendental love of Krishna, people were taught to simply tolerate temporary problems like extreme weather:

matra-sparsas tu kaunteya/sitosna-sukha-duhkha-dah/agamapayino ‘nityas/tams titiksasva bharata – O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed. Bhagavad-gita 2.14

Although Srila Prabhupada knew about the environmental movement practically from its inception in the 1960’s, he was not even slightly interested in adapting his mission to include its goals, or any others of that era’s youth culture.

“We will present our program at Bhaktivedanta Manor exactly in the line of Lord Caitanya, by kirtana, prasadam distribution and speaking from Bhagavad-gita. We cannot deviate even an inch in order to attract the followers of the ecology philosophy or any other materialistic, utopian movement. You say you know a number of influential leaders of this group, but what is the use of knowing them, since you yourself found them deficient and left them? Our ideal Vedic community will attract everyone on its own merit, and we shall be glad to welcome and accept everyone who comes without our compromising in order to attract them.” Letter to: Mahadeva  —  Mayapur 3 March, 1974

Krishna, or God, consciousness included everything. Srila Prabhupada preached that if you watered the tree at its root, all the leaves and branches would be included. Yasmin vijnate sarvam etam vijnatam bhavanti (Mundaka Upanisad 1.3) – If you simply understand Krishna then you have full knowledge. Continue reading